These days, the amount of interaction of the student community with technology is immense. From a young age, kids are exposed to technology be it in the form of video games, mobile or television. Technology has also helped to transform methods of teaching and learning by incorporating resources that have a positive impact on the growth and development of children. However, despite the technological advancements in education, the traditional pen and paper exams still rule the roost in India. Why? Students are habituated with the pen and paper format of giving exams from their school days. Even after the boom in internet and IT revolution, the education system has transformed at a snail’s pace. However, the pace of adoption has picked up lately. After the Common Admission test of 2009, online exams gradually became popular in the country. Now, unlike competitive entrance exams of yore, all major entrance exams are conducted online.
Since 2013-14, the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) has gone through a lot of changes and adopted new online admissions and application selection procedures. Students are able to choose between the online or offline mode of exams. In 2016, 974,230 students appeared for the offline exam while 154,406 candidates took the online route of the competitive exam. The disparity in numbers proves that students still hesitate to opt for the online mode of writing competitive exams in India. Majority of students prefer offline mode as it is the familiar mode of taking exams and they feel confident attempting exams with their favourite pen or pencil.
Computer-based tests were introduced in India a few years ago to transform the way exams are conducted, designed, monitored and evaluated in India. In the online mode, there are less chances of paper leaks or cheating, as test papers are not printed and physically delivered but are digitally encrypted and uploaded to test centres on the day of the exam. The online mode of examination also ensures high-level security where photo identity checks and digital signatures are made mandatory for in a few exams. While the offline system is free from any sort of technical glitches, it does not provide flexibility in studying. The material for online and digital courses is downloadable and can be accessed anytime, anywhere, which allows a student to multitask while studying.
Listed below are a few points on why students in India should opt for the online mode of examination. Apart from being the accepted mode of examination globally, enlisted are a few points which describe the advantages of an online exam-
1) Travel less and save time and energy: In the paper-and-pencil tests, candidates have to travel from far off places to reach a particular exam hall and a centre on a given date and time. Those living in small towns or rural areas need to plan their travel well in advance to make it to the exam hall without any difficulties. However, the online mode of exam is convenient as a candidate can take the exam from a nearby centre with the help of a computer. Thus, the computer-based test is free from physical barriers which are of great advantage for students living in far rung areas. It has the capability to reach out to a larger number of students who refrain from giving competitive exams as they have to bear additional expenses for travel and stay.
2) Cost effective pattern of examination: The cost of application in the offline mode is higher compared to the online format of examination. Apart from the examination fee, students who opt for the offline mode have to shell out extra money to travel to far off examination centres.
3) Selection can be changed easily: Unlike the offline mode of examination, where students are unable to rectify their mistakes on the OMR sheet, the online exam enables easy corrections in their selected answers. There is no fear of losing marks in the online mode if the candidate has found out the mistake before the submission of the paper. With the click of a button, students can change their answers at any point of time. This gives more confidence to the candidate as mistakes can be rectified easily.
4) Convenient and flexible schedule of examination: Since the inception of online exams, most of the competitive exams in India are conducted in a span of two or more days. Students are given the freedom to select the date and time as per their choice and convenience. For instance, the JEE (Main) computer-based exam will be held on 8th and 9thof April, 2017 with a choice for students to choose a particular date among the two. Through online examinations, students not only get extra time to prepare for the exam but can also choose their preferred timing and date of the exam as per their convenience and slots available.
5) Review or re-answer any question: At times, students are not sure of the answer and want to leave the question for later. The online mode of examination allows a candidate to mark the question for review and get back to the question after completing the rest of the sections. This is easier than the offline test, where a student will have to remember the number of questions that were left unattempted in each section. The online mode provides information of the questions answered, unanswered, answers marked for review on the screen in different colours, thus helping the students strategize accordingly. At any point of time, if a candidate is not confident or have no idea of the answer, he/she can mark it for review and save valuable time to continue with the next question.
6) Countdown timer: Time plays the most crucial role during exams. The online mode provides a countdown timer on the top right corner of the screen, which helps students to analyze the time left for solving questions. There is no need of an invigilator to alert students on the time left, as is the case in offline mode of examination.
While it may be difficult for students to switch to the online mode of examination just before a day or two of the examination, students can take up ample number of mock tests online as part of their preparations. The internet is flooded with mock online papers and students can also seek the help of their teachers as well as experienced candidates to understand the nitty-gritty’s of the online pattern. Through practice and familiarization, students will be able to improve their speed and manage time efficiently during the online exams.
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